CVS used to be a super reliable chain pharmacy around here. But now it’s a hot mess.
I started using CVS 10 years ago, within days of my breast cancer surgery because Rite-Aid wouldn’t let my husband pick up my meds post surgery, and made me go into the pharmacy and wait 40 minute for meds that had been called in an hour before I left the hospital which was close to an hour away. I had to stand there practically drooling from anesthesia and in pain. There was no chair for me to sit on. So that is how I switched to CVS. (But I digress.)
My great uncle was a pharmacist. He was dedicated and beloved in his community back in the day. But that was before the time of chain store pharmacies eating up the market share, and small independent pharmacies have a really hard time competing, so there aren’t many of them left. Which sucks because (for example) if you have allergies to what binds and holds meds together, it’s really hard to find compound pharmacies. I miss the small independent pharmacies we all knew growing up.
But back to CVS.
CVS pharmacies are flailing, or failing, choose your descriptive adjective. I do not believe it to be the fault of the employees, it’s a systemic corporate issue because I do believe they DO NOT treat their employees well as they seem unable to retain/attract them. I used to think it was just our area, but given all of the media articles I have read I guess they have this issue all over?
I will only give a couple of examples locally of CVS issues although I can tell you Exton, PA and Berwyn, PA also are also having issues – just go on social media. Facebook and Twitter. Every day someone is talking about issues with CVS somewhere.
CVS located at 1450 Pottstown Pike West Chester PA (Store #3875) has had issues which precede COVID. Since COVID their pharmacy is closed more than it is open, and currently has no pharmacist other than floaters. It’s a new store, they can’t keep it staffed.
We switched to CVS in Frazer PA because of Pottstown Pike CVS issues. Frazer is located at 335 Lancaster Ave, Frazer PA (Store #5064). I had to call THREE times to get my monthly prescriptions this month alone. I am on automatic refill, only they didn’t fill them. When I called, I sat on hold for quite a long time because they are seriously understaffed. When I asked why I didn’t get the text my prescriptions were ready when I actually called them into CVS a second time fearing they weren’t on automatic refill any longer, I was told they weren’t being filled unless people called in. Then it still took three days to get them because both prescriptions were not ready when they said they would be. I am just lucky that I finished 10 years of breast cancer meds in September, not that the meds I still am taking are optional because they aren’t. And they are conditions related to having had breast cancer and had treatment and a decade of breast cancer meds.
Someone else I know has been trying for a week to get prescriptions refilled. There are some days you go, and the pharmacy is just closed. Then when you do go, the line inside is over an hour, and the drive thru some days without warning is your only option and during the work day can you personally afford to sit in a drive thru lane over an hour? They still do not have their meds. Oh and our CVS in Frazer MAY have a pharmacist by tomorrow (Saturday), only people are all over social media saying THAT store will have a closed pharmacy until Monday or Tuesday of NEXT week. And there is a CVS in Malvern, PA in the Target a few minutes away, which is also closed today.
So when people are off prescription meds because they can’t get them filled how does that affect efficacy?
Again, I do not blame the staff CVS has, I blame the CVS corporate team. They sit in the gilded tower, so perhaps they fail to see what is actually happening, except how can that be?
Thanks to a lovely New York Times article a while back, I know they mark certain patients via a form as “media threats”:
…The specifics and severity of errors are nearly impossible to tally. Aside from lax reporting requirements, many mistakes never become public because companies settle with victims or their families, often requiring a confidentiality agreement. A CVS form for staff members to report errors asks whether the patient is a “media threat,” according to a photo provided to The Times. CVS said in a statement it would not provide details on what it called its “escalation process.”~Ellen Gabler New York Times
I am sure after this post, I will be added to the list.
I am writing this blog post mostly because I took the time to TRY to reach executive escalations in their corporate headquarters yesterday, and a very rude woman in in their corporate HQ could not be bothered with speaking to me, so she transferred me to some random customer service line where I sat for 90 minutes until the CVS end disconnected the call.
With health plans being what they are, many people do not have options for where they can go to get prescriptions filled.
What does it take for CVS to wake up?
We can’t even count on CVS locally for COVID or Flu shots at most locations.
Yes there are staffing shortages everywhere, but CVS is the worst. And my local CVS is staffed by nice people who work hard, but they aren’t slaves on the CVS Plantation.
So CVS, what do you have to say for yourselves that doesn’t involve blowing smoke up the derrieres of your customers? Inquiring minds want to know.
For my readers, these are the email addresses I found for CVS: ExecutiveOffice@cvshealth.com , Matthew.Blanchette@cvshealth.com , firstname.lastname@example.org ,email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org ,
Traci.Carter@cvshealth.com , email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org , CSS@cvshealth.com
I went Internet hunting and that is what I came up with, I like going to Executive Offices because it wastes less time and their regular vanilla customer service is somewhat useless and you can never get through to anyone.
As I close this post a reminder that I fell this is a systemic CORPORATE issue due to crappy corporate culture. The employees I have encountered from CVS locally have been very nice. So I encourage all of you to contact CVS at the corporate level. Take the time to tell them what is happening. I will note that CVS has been fined in other states for issues like this. (Refer to New York Times article CVS Fined for Prescription Errors and Poor Staffing at Pharmacies Regulators faulted four locations in Oklahoma, a rare action that followed complaints at drugstore chains across the country. By Ellen Gabler)
Have a great weekend! Thanks for stopping by.
Experienced the same at the CVS on W Lancaster Ave in Downingown, where we had to start going this year due to going onto a Medicare plan at retirement. CVS mail-order works really well, been using it for years. Going to try to switch out to Wegmans on new plan, very close by and has great reviews.
I will no longer patronize any CVS after one of their pharmacists gaslighted me. I had received a COVID-19 nasal swab test, only to find out that they gave me an inferior shared test without my consent. They were trying to save money by combining together a number of swabs and then testing the combination once. I am well aware of pooled sampling, because when I was at UCLA, I studied the statistical aspects of pooled testing (false positives and false negatives) and we focused on when Uncle Sam was doing this to save money for venereal disease blood tests for sailors. Anyway, when I asked for my information under HIPPA, to find out more about what they did and didn’t do, the pharmacist told me HIPPA didn’t apply. Then the pharmacist gaslighted me and made flicking motions with her fingers that I should leave. This was at the CVS in Phoenixville. Furthermore, I was there the minute they opened, so I heard the staff talking to her behind the metal barrier and everyone was complaining that CVS had loaded them up with so many appointments that it was going to be bad. Since I used to work as a $100/hour consultant to pharmacy colleges, I called up my favorite pharmacist and asked what was going on with CVS. She told me that CVS was treating their employees poorly by overworking them, and this was dangerous because it increases the likelihood of medical errors, and furthermore that CVS was closing stores because they couldn’t get them properly staffed at the pay they were offering and the working conditions. CVS pharmacy staff were voting with their feet!
RiteAid on S. High St. West Chester just closed without notifying their patients or making provision to transfer prescriptions. As you say, it’s the new corporate ethos.
Really? They were there forever!